President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday met behind closed doors with Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, four Southeast governors and Deputy Governor of Anambra at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Southeast governors, who were led by the Deputy Senate President, arrived the State House at about 4.20p.m.
The affected governors included Dave Umahi (Ebonyi); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and deputy governor of Anambra Mr Nkem Okeke while Rochas Okorocha was yet to arrive the venue of the meeting as of the time of filing this report.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Umahi said that the group also requested the president to approve 50 per cent of the contract sum for the second Niger Bridge and another 50 per cent in bond as an assurance that the project would not be abandoned.
He explained that the south east leaders made a case for the reduction of the completion period of the project from 48 months to 24 months.
According to him, President Buhari was informed that the 24 months period was achievable with the discussions.The governor said that they had come specifically to thank the president for the award of the contract for the major component of the bridge at the cost of N206 billion.
“The project is the dream of our people and it has become a dream come true. Our people said that we must come and thank you. Your Excellency, Mr. President, we are grateful.While enumerating some challenges confronting the governors to the president, umahi said: “Out of mutual respect, we have come to you as a caring leader to listen to us.”
Other requests made by the leaders include commissioning of the economic free trade zone in Abia, the Enugu international airport, which they asked for the deployment of the cargo section, completion of the building and extension of the runway.The leaders also discussed the geometric power plant in Aba to assist in resolving the issues, so that power will be deployed to the industrial clusters in Aba and environs.
Governor Umahi said that the president assured them that he was going to look into the issues, including the railway projects.“We were given a cheering news that not only that the railway will be awarded, that it will touch all states’ capitals in south east as it moves from south east to Maiduguri.
“There will also be a port that will be added to it and it will cost about $12 billion. He said they are yet to bring it to Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, so they intend to do so,” he said.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, was also seen heading towards the president’s mini conference hall, venue of the meeting.
NAN reports that even though the agenda of the meeting was not made public, the Southeast Governors’ Forum had told newsmen in Abuja that the governors would discuss national and regional issues with the president at the meeting.
The Director-General of the Southeast Governors Forum, Prof. Simon Ortuanya, who revealed on Monday, disclosed that the meeting would discuss the pressing needs of the geopolitical zone.
He said that one of these needs included the second Niger Bridge and the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu. (NAN)